Security Council: Sexual Violence in Conflict

Statement by H.E. Lise Gregoire van Haaren

Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

NEW YORK, 23 April 2019

Vielen Dank Herr Vorsitzender

Let me start by commending Germany as well as France for their excellent stewardship with regard to the Women, Peace & Security agenda during the past two months.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands fully aligns itself with the statement made by the European Union and Canada on behalf of 55 Member States.

The pertinent briefings of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative show that addressing this topic is as important today as ever.
We applaud their leadership and want to reiterate our full support for Ms Patten’s mandate.

In addition, we wish to express our appreciation for Dr Denis Mukwege, Ms Nadia Murad, Ms Inas Miloud and Ms Amal Clooney for sharing their experience and expertise.
We commend their courageous work, often in difficult circumstances.

We could not have had this debate today without the efforts of survivors and others, speaking out for themselves and for others.

Mr President,

Today, I will focus on accountability, addressing
1) the role of the ICC,
2) sanctions, and
3) the survivor-centered approach, including sexual and reproductive health and rights

Enhanced accountability would send a strong and preventative signal to perpetrators and protect the safety and lives of millions of women, girls, men and boys in conflict areas.

A coherent accountability approach to Conflict Related Sexual Violence is important, and the primary responsibility for accountability rests with the state.  

  1. The role of the ICC

When states are unable or unwilling to prosecute, the ICC can play an important role in holding perpetrators accountable.
We remind the Council of its power to refer situations, such as the situations in Syria and Myanmar, to the ICC.
We call upon states to become a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC.

  1. Sanctions

Second, the role of sanctions.
Sanctions can contribute to the fight against impunity, and be a form of deterrence and prevention.
Last October, the KNL initiated an Arria formula meeting, during which the Council discussed ways in which sanctions could contribute to moving from a culture of impunity to a culture of deterrence.

Allow me to highlight three main take-aways.
They are in line with the recommendations of the SG’s report, which we strongly support.

(a) To start with, the Council should systematically and explicitly incorporate and apply sexual violence as a stand-alone designation criterion in sanctions regimes.
We call upon all Council members to extend this practice to all remaining relevant sanctions regimes and to ensure adequate follow-up. 

The Council should also not hesitate to list an individual solely for sexual violence, to send a clear message that sexual violence in itself is sufficient to warrant UN sanctions.

(b) Furthermore, the cooperation and interaction between sanctions committees, panels and the SRSG should be further strengthened.
It should become more structural and frequent, including through annual SRSG briefings to the committees.

It is important for the Council to include sexual violence in its deliberations on country-specific situations.
This broadens the understanding of the challenges at hand. In December, we facilitated the briefing by SRSG Patten to the Council on sexual violence in Bentiu, South Sudan.
Such briefings as well as briefings to sanctions committees should become the rule, rather than the exception.

(c) And lastly: the sanctions architecture should be better linked to the findings in the SG’s annual report, in which we find the same list of parties as last year.
Where no specific sanctions regime yet exists, the Council should explore innovative ways to use sanctions following listing in the Annex.

Mr President, my third point:

  1. The survivor-centred approach

Taking a survivor-centred approach, means listening to survivors and respecting their rights, wishes and needs whilst taking into account their privacy and confidentiality.
When survivors speak up, we should be ready to give them our full attention and hear their requests.

Sexual violence is aimed at wrecking a community.
Survivors know their needs best.
It is a essential they are addressed for a community to be rebuilt. 

For survivors to choose freely, we should support them with comprehensive information and services, including those related to sexual and reproductive health and rights, safe abortion and mental health and psychosocial support, as guaranteed by international humanitarian and human rights law.
In this light we fully support the statement made by France after the vote this morning.

For survivors to recover, we need to provide them with protection and legal action.

I am not only thinking about the survivors of sexual violence in South Sudan, but also about the Yazidi women and girls, and the Rohingya women and girls I met during the Security Council Visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar almost one year ago today.
This Council has raised expectations and should follow suit. And justice is at the top of the list. 

In this light, we reiterate our full support to UNITAD, investigating crimes committed by Da’esh, and also to the Investigative mechanism Myanmar that will soon start its important work.

Let me finish by quoting Ms Nadia Murad, when she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize:

“Thank you very much for this honour, but the fact remains that the only prize in the world that can restore our dignity is justice and the prosecution of criminals.”

Thank you.